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Car Reviews
2021 Review: Hyundai Santa Cruz

Sometimes, reality defies our expectations. Such is the case with the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz.

For example, this compact crossover-based pickup, manufactured in Montgomery, Alabama, has styling that is like nothing else on the market. You may like it, you may hate it, but there’s no disputing that it is distinctive.

Aesthetics aside, the four-door Santa Cruz has a lot going for it. The 281-horsepower, 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder propelling my top-of-the-line Limited test truck (base models get a 191-horsepower, non-turbo 2.5-liter engine) delivered peppy performance and decent fuel economy. The suspension gives it an astonishingly good ride quality and solid handling.

The handsome passenger cabin offers car-like comfort and amenities for front-seat occupants. The downside of the Santa Cruz’s compact overall dimensions is a snug rear seat best suited to younger kids.

Out back, the four-foot bed is also on the small side. Nevertheless, a hard tonneau cover and under-bed “trunk” are handy touches in everyday use.

Taken together, these elements make the Santa Cruz a pickup you wouldn’t have expected to like so much.

  

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STRENGTHS

  • Long list of standard tech/convenience features
  • Top model’s heated/cooled second-row seats with recliner-like footrest

WEAKNESSES

  • Ride quality suffers a bit on rough pavement.
  • Vexing touch-screen HVAC/infotainment controls

BOTTOM LINE

  • The best of both worlds: SUV looks with minivan practicality

PRICING

  • Base Price: $32,100
  • As Tested: $41,595

SAFETY

  • NHTSA/Overall: Not yet rated

M.P.G. (city/highway)

  • 19/26 (3.5L V6)